DES MOINES — Starting teachers would earn $35,000 a year and districts would be required to adopt new professional career ladders under an education reform bill filed Monday.
Senate Study Bill 1228 is the Senate’s response to the education reform package House members passed on a party-line vote last month.
Other key changes in the Senate bill include putting a peer review process back in place — the House version called for annual supervisory reviews — and creation of a pilot program in which high-poverty school districts could get up to $600 more per pupil to spend on academic programs.
The centerpiece of both the governor’s plan and the House version is the career ladder part of the bill. The Senate bill is different in that respect.
Gov. Terry Branstad’s bill proposed a system that created different levels of teachers who would be paid more as they took on more administrative responsibilities. School districts would get an extra $300-plus to pay for making the transition.
The House version made adoption of the career ladder optional, but districts would only get the extra money if they adopted the ladder.
“Our vision at this point is the districts will have to choose one of the three models that are in our bill or they have to develop their own as long as they meet the minimums we have,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “But whichever way they go, they will have a model, and they will get the funding.”
The bill was distributed Monday afternoon and has its first subcommittee hearing scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a full committee hearing set for Thursday.
Iowa State Education Association Director Mary Jane Cobb said she was still going through the legislation but was pleased to see peer reviews included in the Senate bill.
“One of the first things I flipped to was to see if they put peer review piece back in, and they did,” Cobb said. “I think it’s an acknowledgement that that’s the right way to go and it helps the teacher leadership conversation.
Rep. Ron Jorgensen, R-Sioux City, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he also needed more time to review the legislation.
But, he added, his overall goal was to keep education reform moving along the lines Branstad had proposed.
“They still have the pathways and they still increase the minimum pay, so it sounds like we might be on the same path with some discussion we to be had,” Jorgensen said. “We’ll see what it looks like when we get a fiscal note.”
Fiscal notes are cost estimates put out by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. Quirmbach said he expects a note soon.